Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area



1897, October 14 - Head-on collision east of Stittsville, Canadian Pacific Railway




One of the locomotives involved was #283 was a 4-4-0 built by Hinckley in August 1883. This was the locomotive that hauled Sir John A. McDonald's funeral train on 6 June 1891.

Ottawa Evening Journal, Thursday 14 October 1897

Shortly after five o'clock this morning the C.P.R. Toronto "Cannon Ball" Exress coming to Ottawa and a freght train ran into each other about three miles this side of Stittsville.  A bad wreck resulted. 
Five are dead and one is badly injured.
The dead are:
Robt. Peden, mail clerk Ottawa.
Jas Hastey, brakeman on the express, Carleton Place.
James Tierney, of Cantley, Quebec, was on the freight and supposed to be stealing a ride.
Engineer, Frank Laurendeau, Carleton Place, of the express is under the wreck and supposed to be dead.
James Fleming of Cantley, Quebec, who was in freight.  Not known how he was on.
The Injured.
Engineer McCuaig of the freight Carleton Place. Leg broken.
Mail clerk Birchall and Expressman T.C. Hewton were badly shaken up.
The Cause.
The accident as far as can be learned was the result either of a misunderstanding or non-obeyance of orders between the night telegraph operator and the conductor of the express.
Marion McNish, the night operator at Stittsville got instructions to cross the express and a freight at Stittsville.
Why the express was not held at Stittsville as orered has yet to be ascertained but the fact is it was not held and thundering on along the downgrade met half of the freight that should have crossed it at the Stittsville switch.  The result was a terrible collision.  At the point where the accident occurred the express runs at a high rate of speed.
Stittsville is at the top of a long steep grade. Just past Stittsville the ground rises slightly and then descends so that a train going east cannot see a train coming west.
The freight train was long and heavy.
The crash
The engineer of the freight divided his train in two.  He had taken one section to the Stittsville siding and was on the up-grade with the second section when the "Cannon Ball" express came tearing down the grade and quicker than it can be written there was a head-on crash, cries of the injured and wreckage strewn all around.  The collision occurred near the Hazeldean crossing.
The wreck was piled up 30 feet high. The two engines are badly damaged and the baggage car on the express and three freight cars wrecked.  The scene was a sad one to witness.
Doctors arrive
As soon as the crash was over and a crowd gathered doctors were set for in all directions.  Soon there were on the scene Dr. Richardson of Hazeldean, Dr. Channonhouse and Dr. Danby of Richmond.  They worked hard to aid the injured.
Jumped for Life
As soon as the express appeared in sight, Engineer McCuaig of the freight put on the air brakes, but as soon as he saw a collision was inevitable he and the fireman jumped for their lives.
Pinned in the Wreck
Brakeman Hastey of the freight, who had been riding on the engine, did not jump.  When the crash was over he was found pinned down by the leg in the wreck of the freight engine.  He was conscious.  He suffered terribly but lived until 8.30. 
The poor fellow could not be taken out.  Mr. S. Mann of Stittsville was near him when he died.
"Get the stuff off me", he said weakly, and I will be all right. He then swooned and shortly afterwards breathed his last.
No Time to Think
According to the story of Engineer McCuaig, the trains did not see each other until they were less than 8 car lengths apart, and there was no time to think.  As soon as he saw the express coming he told the fireman and brakeman, he says, to jump and jumped himself, getting clear.  The air was misty at the time and still comparatively dark.
Descriptions of narrow escapes by crew members
Pen Picture of the Wreck as seen by Journal Reporters 
The wreck is a terrible looking scene. Two engines lie bottoms together, with the debris of broken freight cars and tenders piled upon them.  They are in a ditch on the south side of the track, in a swamp full of bulrushes.
The telegraph poles on both sides are bent away from the track, the wires broken and down.
The track runs through a swampy land and on both sides are low bushes.  The two engines are lying together in a ditch on the south side of the track.  The tender of the exress train was half way through the baggage car and the front of the second baggage car is also badly smashed.  Of the passenger train, only the engine left the track while the freight engine lies beside the passenger engine and the freight cars are piled in a heap on the north side of the track.  Two of the freight cars are smashed to pieces, while parts of the trucks are broken and twisted altogether out of shape.  The trees beside the engines are covered with earth for twenty feet back from the swamp and right up to the topmost limbs, while the fences look as if they had been built of mud.
The track where the engines met has been bent considerably, while the sleepers are broken and many will have to be renewed..  While the train hands at noon today are cleaning up the debris the wreckage was so entangled that many ties were further broken. Trains will likely be moving along the line before five o'clock this afternoon.
Passengers' experiences.
Ottawa Evening Journal Friday 15 October, 1897.  Extensive coverage: Victims taken home, Inquest opened.
McNish in Custody
Operator McNish of Stittsville is being kept in custody at the C.P.R. station.  The crown authorities have not yet decided to place him under arrest, but he is being held for the present. He is only nineteen years of age and feels very keenly over the accident.  An expression of opinion that he is responsible for the accident should be withheld until the verdict of the coroner'sjury is given.
First Train Through
The first train to get past the scene of the wreck was the Brockville mixed which arrived at Ottawa at three o'clock yesterday afternoon about six hours late. --

Ottawa Daily Citizen 15 October 1897

SERIOUS CP.R. COLLISION
TORONTO EXPRESS DASHES INTO A FREIGHT TRAIN.
The Accident Took Place Two Miles this Side of Stittsville-What Walter Kavanagh Heard While in the Station at Stittsville-Evidence Given Before the Coroner's Jury Last Evening.
A "head-on" collision with fatal results occurred early yesterday morning on the CP.R. about two miles east of Stittsville, and 13 miles from Ottawa. The express train from Toronto, due to arrive here at 5.50 a.m., collided with a freight train going west. Both trains were running at a high rate of speed. There are four deaths as the result of the accident:
Frank Larondeau, Ottawa, engineer of the express, found dead under the debris.
Robert Peden, mail clerk, Ottawa.
James Hastey, Carleton Place, front brakeman on freight train.
H. Kearney, of Cantley, Quebec.
The injured are: Alex. McQuaig, of Carleton Place, engineer of the freight train, leg broken; H. Kavanagh, fireman, also of Carleton Place, scratched and bruised ; and P. J. Fleming, of Cantley, Que, who was with Kearney.
HOW IT HAPPENED.
The accident occurred at 5.27, as is indicated by Larondeau's watch having stopped at that time. It was foggy. and Engineer McQuaig, of the freight train, says he could not see a yard ahead. The two trains were running at full speed. The place where the accident happened is about half way between Stittsviile station and a curve in the road about three miles east. The freight was a heavy one, and had been divided into two parts at Bell's Corners in order to run up the heavy grade between that place and Stittsville. The first half had been taken as far as Stittsville and orders should have been left there for the express to wait at Stittsville till the freight came up with the second section. It was the duty, it is said, of brakeman Hastey to have stayed by the section of the freight sidetracked at Stittsville, in order to flag ary train from the west. Instead, he went back with the freight engine to Bell's Corners. However, Walter Kavanagh testified before the coroner's jury last night that he heard someone, presumably the conductor of the freight train, tell the station agent at Stittsville, Marion (sic) McNish, not to allow the express train to pass until the freight train had been made up.
AN AWFUL CRASH.
The Toronto train was sharp on time, and the two trains met with a crash that was heard a mile away. At the place where the collision occurred the freight had just got over the grade and was running for Stittsville at a good speed.
The two engines met at united speed of about ninety miles an hour. As they struck they reared up on end, the hind drivers meeting. Both locomotives then toppled over on the south side of the track. Four freight cars, three of them empty cattle cars, were driven on past the engines and piled in a heap on the north side of the track. Two i these cars are broken into kindling wood. The other two can be repaired.
On the rear of the passenger train the shock was scarcely felt. The mail car, in which were Peden and F. Birchall, also a mail clerk, was badly broken up.
SAW THE DANGERS, Engineer Alex. McQuaig, of the freight, and his fireman, H. Kavanagh, heard the express coming thundering down upon them just as they rounded the curve. The driver reversed his engine and put on the steam brake. Then both men jumped for their lives. McQuaig came off with his right leg broken near the ankle. Kavanagh was more fortunate, sustaining only a few, bruises and a cut over one of his eyes
ON THE EXPRESS.
The engineer of the express evidently did not see the approaching freight in time to jump. His fireman, Lyman Annable, jumped, and escaped with a few slight cuts and bruises. Annable says he jumped from the engineer's side of the engine cab and the engineer from his side. The place where Larondeau's body was found, among the wreckage on the north side of tie track verifies this statement. F. Birchall and M. W. Sloan were also in the mail coach with Robert Peden, and had miraculous escapes from death.
When the search for the bodies began Peden was found under the debris of the engine and baggage car. Brakeman Hastey was not dead when found pinned in between a freight car and the wreck of the freight engine. He was unconscious, though, and died about three; hours after. It is thought that Kearney had been stealing a ride, and when found was dead. His body was lying among the debris of the freight) cars.
The body of Larndeau was not discovered until about half-past four in the afternoon. As Annable said, be must have jumped from the fireman's side of the! cab. He probably jumped almost as the engines met, for his body was found among, the broken freight on the north side of the track almost opposite the wreck of the locomotives. When found the body was doubled up, with the hands up to the head, and the clothes were partly torn off.
P. J. Fleming was stealing a ride with Kearney on the freight train, but escaped with a few scalp wounds. His injuries are not serious and he will probably .soon recover. Hei is at the Protestant Hospital, where he was conveyed at once.
THE RELIEF TRAIN.
A wrecking train was promptly on the scene of the accident, and the work of rescuing the wounded and cleaning (sic) the tracks begun. Doctors were also sent for, and Dr. Richardson came from Hazeldean, Dr. Shannonhouse and Dr. Darby from Richmond. They gave valuable, assistance in taking care of the wounded. The line was cleared sufficiently to allow trains to pass by one o'clock. The telegraph lines of both the G. N. W. and C. P. R. Companies run along this line, and were broken down by the wreck being thrown against the poles. Gangs of men repaired them temporarily. The passengers on the express were transferred to a train for Ottawa, brought into the cityj and breakfasted by  he C. P. R- They sneak in high terms of the way in which the company treated them.
Mr. C. W. Spencer estimates the loss to the C. P. R. at about $6.000. The two engines were old; ones and were soon to have been sent to the repair shops. Two of the freight cars can be repaired at a small cost, while there is a great deal of both engines and cars that can be saved.
During the day the wreck was visited by large numbers of people from Ottawa and from the country round. Many went by bicycle from the city, and many farmers drove to the scene of the accident and watched the gang of wreckers at work clearing the tracks. Several of the sight seers brought their kodacks, and took snap shots of the wreck.
THE INQUEST.
Evldence of Some of the Psssengers - Walter Kavanagh's Story.
Coroner Freeland opened the inquest at Undertaker S. M. Rogers' morgue, at four o'clock, yesterday afternoon. After the remains of James Hastey. brakeman, and Jas. Kearney had been viewed, an adjournment was made until the evening. lte y is composed as follows: A. C. Larose. foreman; Dr. Parnell, Geo. Low. Frank Kehoe, John Buchanan, Jos. Boyden. S. Mahoney. P. H. Charbot. L. T. Rochbn,,W. H. Davis, Frank Montgomery. Ed. Whelan, W. E. Brown, F. Merritt, Wm. Keenahan, W. A.Davis.
Wnen the jury met in the evening County Crown Attorney Ritchie was in attendance and examined the witnesses. Mr. Curl, of Scott and Curl, appeared on behalf of the C. P. R. and Mr. MacCraken for the relatives of Mr. Peden. Mr. C. W. Spencer and Mr. Robillard of the C. P. R. were also present.
It was decided to confine the inquest to the death of James Hastey, the brakeman. who was killed on the front part of the freight train.
MR. WHITE'S TESTIMONY.
 Mr. W. J. White, press agent of the department of the Interior was first examined. He was on the train, having boarded it at Toronto. He could not say what time they reached Stiftsvi!Ie. but the accident occurred just a few minutes before half-past five o'clock. He was in his berth at the time. As soon as it happened he arose and went to the rear end of the coach. It was so foggy that it was difficult for him to see any distance. He heard the screaming of those ahead and he put on his clothes and went forward. There was nothing that be noticed then except that there had been a smash up.
To Mr. Ritchie the witness said he saw two men carried into the first class car. These were all be saw, except a portion of a man underneath a freight car.
Further, he stated that the coal oil lamp in the baggage car was still burning. He asked one of the injured men if he was hurt, but he seemed so badly shook up that he gave but a very incoherent answer.
Mr. C. W. Spencer, by way of explanation, stated that coal oil was not used in the lamps. Mineral sea oil was used as a precaution.
Witness withdrew his statement about the coal oil, stating that he only thought such had been used,
Mr. Joseph P. Rogers was on the train. He testified that as soon as the accident happened he jumped from his berth, went forward, but could only see a cloud of vapor. On going forward further be saw a man injured. He went over the debris and heard a man crying out for help. One of the engines was on the right hand side of the track coming east. Both might have been there ; he didn't take particular notice.
MEDICAL TESTIMONY. Dr. Scott, sworn, said he had examined the body of deceased. Death was due to shock and injuries received. There were several burns on his right leg. which was broken a little above the knee. The left foot was burned, and there was a deep cut over the right temple. He went to the wreck from the city with Mr. |Spencer, and when he first saw Hastey he was alive. The tender was turned on its side. He was in it, and part of the boiler was holding him down. Hastey said he was suffering very much. It was very difficult to get at him. One of the train hands had got in where be was and was carrying out directions. Eveiything was done that could be done to get him out. It took quite a while because they had to go gently about it for fear of some of the wreck falling on him. He was dead when taken out, having died in there about five minutes before being extricated. They placed bis body on a train and brought it to Ottawa, arriving here about half-past eleven.
John Mindler, Detroit, Mich, was on the train. He felt a shock and beard a man shout "Great Scott, vot am going to happen ?" He went forward immediately with another man, and heard a man shout for help. He seemed to be in the midst of the gushing steam. Witness started to climb up the side of the wreck to give some assistance, but slipped down twice. When the steam cleared away some he saw the man in the tender by looking through the manhole. He was all covered over with dirt. One of the trainmen managed to get through tbe manhole to his assistance.
A STITTSVILLE PASSENGER.
Henry Forbes, of Goulbourn, boarded the express train at Stittsille at about twenty-five minutes past five o'clock. He saw a man in the office, and afterwards walking up and down the platform. The train, he thought, arrived at Stittsville on time. He could not say at what rate of speed it was going when the accident happened. The shock caused bim to bump back against his seat. He raw Hastey pinioned in the tender some time after the collision. The man was alive, for he beard bim shout " Jim." While be was at Stittsville a train came from Ottawa, and he thought it drew into the siding, and was blowing and shunting. He went away to unharness a horse and returned about ten minutes afterwards. He could not say positively whether this train went on or returned, nor whether it left any cast on tbe siding.
WHAT W. KAVANAGH HEARD. Walter Kavanagh was at Ithe Stittsville station about twenty-five minutes to five. A train came from Ottawa and went back again. A mangot off the train and went into tbe station. He heard him say, "Let no trains through until I get my train made up." The man seemed to he in a hurry. The operator was in the office. Witness could not say whether tbe operator made any reply. When the Toronto train arrived he saw the agent walking up and down the station platform. After the collision happened he saw deceased pinioned in the tender. He heard him say, "Send for two engines and draw the cars away". Witness could not say that be would know the man again who spoke to the operator if he saw him again.
After hearing Mr. Kavanagh the jury, by agreement, adjourned until Tuesday evening at tbe same place.
THE DEAD MEN.
---

Ottawa Evening Journal Saturday 16 October 1897.
Borne to the grave.

Ottawa Daily Citizen 20 October 1897

DID M'N1SH HEAR HIM?
BRAKEMAN HASTEY GAVE THE OPERATOR ORDERS
Not to Let the "Cannon Ball" pass Sttisville -  Evidence Given at the Adjourned Inquest Into the Death of the Railway Men.
The adjourned inquest into the death of James Hastey, one of the victims of the recent railway disaster near Stittsville, was resumed in S. Maynard Rogers' new undertaking establishment, Rideau street, last night, before Coroner Freeland. The building was crowded to the doors. Mr. J. A. Ritchie was present in the interest of the crown and W. H. Curle represented the C.P.R
The first witness called was Solomon Logan, section foreman in district No. 29. between Stittsville and Ashton. He merely staled that he visited the wreck shortly after the accident.
Thomas Mattingly, section foreman, stated that it was not customary to divide freight trains, but it was done occasionally
NO ORDERS AT STITTSVILLE.
James T. Warnock, W. H. Harrington, James A. Smart, Deputy Minister of the Interior and Prof. Fletcher, all of whom were on the Toronto express at the time of the accident, swore that they heard no orders given by the operator at Stittsville to the train hands.
J. E. A. Robillard, superintendent of the Montreal and Chalk River division of the C.P.R., was the next witness. He explained the mode of train despatching and clearance on the C. P.R. The clearance order for the express to proceed from Carleton Junction to Ottawa was produced. It authorized the conductor to proceed to his destination at Ottawa. Stittsville is only a flag station. It was a special freight that collided with the Toronto express. The conductor of the freight would receive orders to run from Ottawa to Carleton Junction and keep clear of the regular trains. Such orders would be issued by the train despatcher at Ottawa. R. W. McCo-mick was the despatcher on the morning of the accident. Engineers have the right to return for detached portions of trains, but must notify the nearest station agent to hold regular trains. When the accident occurred McNish was the operator at Stittsville. Special freights must take orders at each station.
To a juryman witness stated that specials are made up by the agents snd yardmasters.
To Mr. Curle It is not customary to divide freights. There were five men in charge of the special freight that morning.
CONDUCTOR OF THE EXPRESS.
William II. E. Pearson, conductor of the Toronto express, was then called. He said : I was in charge of No. 29 at the time of the accident on the 15th inst. I received my clearance order at Carleton Junction. (Witness here identified the order.) The order authorized me to run to Ottawa clear of all trains unless stopped by special orders. I gave the order to the engineer. After leaving Carleton Junction our first stop was at Stittsville at 5.18 a.m. We were flagged to take on a passenger. 1 did not leave the coach at Stittsville; saw red signal light on the station platform. If the Nunn signal had been displayed it would have indicated to stop for orders. I had no conversation whatever with the operator at Stittsville or anyone else; I received no instructions or warning at Stittsville. Having no knowledge that the special was coming from Ottawa I gave the engineer the signal to go ahead. I noticed no cars on the siding at Stittsville; was in the smoking apartment of the sleeper when the trains struck. My train was running from 25 to 28 miles an hour. It was dark and foggy. When the collision occurred I left the car and went forward toward the locomotive; saw James Hastey by the side of the tender; it was impossible to extricate him. He was conscious at the time but I had no conversation with him just then. When I ordered my brakeman to flag any approaching train Hastey said, " For God's sake get me out of here and I will do the flagging". Immediately after I left for Ottawa, Hastey being alive at that time.
FIREMAN ANXABLE'S EVIDENCE.
Lyman Annable sworn, said: I was fireman on the Toronto express on the morning of the accident and saw a red lieht on the platform at Stittsville station. I saw no one waving the light or on the platform when the train approached. I did not notice Engineer Larondeau speaking to any person at Stittsville. I would have noticed if anyone had spoken to the entineer. Larondeau said " All right," and we left for Ottawa. I noticed no cars on the siding. About 2 1-2 miles east of Stittsville, I noticed a headlight about eight car lengths ahead of us. I said: "That's a beadlight, Frank !" He made no reply, but applied the air brakes; it stopped the impetus of the train. It was on a straight line that the accident occurred. When I spoke I left my seat and jumped, the engines being about four car lengths apart at that time. I jumped, and, striking the ground, rolled as far as the fence. It was very foggy and dark, i didnt see Hastey.
To a juryman "I didn't see McNish that night or before."
WHAT W. KAVAVAGH HEARD.
Walter Kavanagh was next examined t-y Mr, Curil- He said: "I was in Stittsville station the morning of the accident; train is due there at 5.18; I reached station, at 10 minutes to 5; saw a freight coming in when entering the station; saw a man come in station; I took him to be a train official; he carried a lantern, but wore no uniform. He said to McNish: "Let no trains through until I get mine made up.'"He .seemed: in a hurry; had a dark moustache ; wouldn't know him if I saw him again. I am not positive whether the operative was in the office at that time, and didn't hear him answer the trainman. He was there when I got my ticket. He came out on the arrival of the express. I don't remember having had any conversation with any train hands since the accident."
HASTEY WARNED McNISH.
William H. Kavanagh said be was fireman on the special freight leaving Ottawa that morning. The train consisted of 26 stock cars, and a van. It was heavy. On reaching Bell's Corners they met with difficulty. They went half a mile up grade and stopped. Engineer McCuaig gave orders to cut the train. McCuaig, Hastey and himself took the train to Stittsville, arriving there at 4.50. They put twelve cars on the siding. Hastey went into the station after they had left the cars on the siding, and on coming out said he had told the operator to hold the "cannon ball," meaning the Toronto express. At the time of the collision McCuaig noticed the express coming first. He said : "Here's the 'cannon ball,' jump!" No flagman was left at Stittsville. Both semaphores were up- when they left. They were not up when they arrived. When they got there the last sempahore was not showing; the" west might have been.
 At 11.30 Coroner Freeland adjourned the inquest until to-night at eight o'clock.

Ottawa Daily Citizen 21 October 1897

Cause of the collision
Mervin McNish didn't hear Hastey's order.
The statements he made before the coroner's jury last night - the conductor of the freight train said Hastey disobeyed orders.
The inquest into the death of brakeman Hastey in the recent ailway accident was continued last night before Coroner Freeland. The attendance was large as usual and the proceedings were watched closely. Of course the important witness examined last night was Mervin McNish, the operator at Stittsville on the night of the disaster. He gave his evidence in an intelligent and straightforward manner, with which the jury was favorably impressed. From this evidence it was elicited - as intimated in yesterday's Citizen - that the accident was caused by an unfortunate misunderstanding and failure to hear brakeman Hastey's order to "hold the Cannonball." The inquiry was further adjourned shortly after eleven, until Monday next, when it is expected that the evidence of McCuaig, engineer of the freight who is suffering from a broken leg, will be taken. This will be the last witness and the case will then go to the coroner's jury.
Conductor of the freight.
The first witness last night was Harry Hawes, conductor of the special freight, which left Ottawa on the morning of the accident. He stated that he received orders from the train despatcher at Ottawa to proceed to Carleton Junction, crossing an eastbound freight at Stittsville. He left Ottawa at 3.25 and crossed the "Soo" train at Britannia leaving that place at 4. 0 with 26 cars and a van. He got stuck on the upgrade at Bells Corners and cut the train, sending the front brakeman James Hastey, to Stitsville with the forward portion of the train, and Hamilton, the rear brakeman, to flag any train approaching from the rear. Witness told Hastey to take the forward portion to Stittsville and to stay and flag the Toronto Express, No. 28. Was positive of giving that order. He saw Hastey on his return and asked him if he had stopped the express. Hastey said, "I told the operator to stop her." He knew that Hastey had not complied with his orders, but supposing the operator would hold the express, signaled "go ahead." He first knew of the accident when the application of the air brakes was felt. He was in the van at the time the trains collided. He went out immediately and found McCuaig lying on the grass. McCuaig said his leg was hurt. Head Hastey call and went to his assistance. Couldn't extricate him from his position. Witness was the first to reach Hastey. He remained at the wreck about 5 minutes and went to Stittsville for assistance. He met McNish when he arrived. McNish did not know of the accident. He tried to get Ottawa by telegraph but failed, and then tried to telephone but could make no connection. He raised the day operator and after difficulty transmitted the message. He saw no signal displayed on reaching Stittsville and asked McNish if he knew what he had done. Mcnish said "no" and offered no explanation. He told McNish to set the Nunn signal and then returned to the wreck.
John R. Hamilton, rear brake man of the special freight, said at the time of the accident he went to Hastey's assistance. Hastey said, "My God, Jack, get me out." Witness told him he had to flag. When he returned Hastey was dead.
Nunn signal displayed.
Michael Quinn, express brakeman, looked out at Stittsville and saw a red light on the platform. He didn't notice the semaphores and saw someone take the lantern into the station and two passengers get on. He didn't see hastey until he was taken out dead. He went to Stittsville to flag and returned with wrecking crew.
Baggagemaster Booth said that on leaving Stittsville the Nunn the signal was not displayed, authorizing the express to go ahead.
Train dispatcher McCormick, of Ottawa, explained the mode of dispatching trains. He ordered the special to proceed from Ottawa to Carleton on the 14th. On hearing of the accident he ordered to tool cars and medical assistance and notified Mr. Robillard, the superintendent. To Mr. Curle witness said Mcnish had been employed five or six weeks and performed his work satisfactorily.
McNish examined.
The last witness was Mervin McNish, operator in charge of the station at Stittsville on the morning of the 14th. Mr. Ritchie conducted the direct examination. Witness said: I was 19 years old in November last. I began to study telegraphy for the G. T. R. agent at Iroquois, Ont., in November, 96. I was there six months leaving on June 1, and shortly afterwards came to Bellamy station on the C. P. R. as a student. I was there two weeks and then came to Stittsville. I could not take every message that came over the lines, only those transmitted at a moderate rate. I always took any message sent me and could send any delivered to me. I was not thoroughly acquainted with station work but knew the duties of a night operator. An operator's duty is to arrange signals, set semaphores, look after freight and baggage and sell tickets. I was sent to Stittsville on September 11th, remained there two weeks and was then sent to Calumet. I remained there two nights and shortly afterwards was transferred to Stittsville. I don't remember the date. I visited Grenville and return to Stittsville for the third time. I read the C. P. R. Rules at Bellamy's and refer to them when necessary. On returning for the second portion of the freight a flagman should have been left at Stittsville by C. P. R. rule 116. I went on duty on the evening of the 13th. My first orders were that two freights would cross at Stittsville.  This required me to display the Nunn signal. I received the order from Ottawa between midnight and 4 a. m. When I operated the signal I didn't notice if the lights on it moved. It was the day man's duty to light the semaphore lights. I noticed them lit during the night. As the westbound express from Ottawa entered the yard I put up the east semaphore. The "Soo" train passed at 3:57. When she passed
Expected an accident.
I put up the west board and let it down when she reached Ottawa. The next train was the special freight from Ottawa. The Nunn signal was not displayed in order that I might stop No. 28, the Toronto express. When the special freight from Ottawa entered the yard the line was clear. When I saw it come in I went out and put up the west board and could see the lights burning. A man at the switch - I supposed it was Hawes - said, "we had to cut to get in." I then knew that the train had been divided, but I didn't understand that was a portion of his train between Stittsville and Ottawa. I thought he meant the rear end of his train was on the other end of the siding; I supposed he had put that part of the train on the siding, and the remainder was at the switch. I thought the whole train was in Stittsville, and he was putting one half on each sighting. Never before heard the expression, "I had to cut to get in." I heard the instrument calling me and went into the station. Despatcher asked me up for train I wired "in",  giving the time. Two passengers were in the waiting room when I went to my instrument. Despatcher then ordered up freight to cross down freight at Ashton and cancelled the first order. It was my duty to give Hawes a duplicate of the order and get him to sign for it. When the order was copied the train had gone, I supposed to some other portion of the yard. I expected to give him the order as soon as he entered;  it was his duty to come in and book. It was my duty to pull in the Nunn signal and not stop a train having the right of way. When I received the order I displayed the signal, and when number 8 arrived I took it in. I considered it my duty having no orders for number 8 I didn't display it a second time not wanting to stop the Toronto express. When I got the order no trainman came in. A passenger bought a ticket. From the time of my speaking to the man at the switch and the passenger buying the ticket I spoke to no person; I heard no one say: "don't let any train through until mine is made up."  I went outside again before 28 arrived. I supposed the special freight was on the siding waiting for the Toronto express, and expected the man at the switch would come in after it had passed. I flagged No. 28, and thought the road to Ottawa was clear. I spoke to no person on that train. After it had passed I reported to Carleton Junction and put up the west signal. When I reported I went down to get the man to sign the order, and it then dawned upon me what had happened. I expected to hear of an accident, but could do nothing. Saw no one in the station but the passengers previous to the arrival of the express. If anyone told me to hold the train I cannot account for not hearing them. I only know I did not hear any person whatever.
The inquest was then adjourned until Monday evening at 8 o'clock.

Ottawa Daily Citizen 26 October 1897

Inquest adjourned.
The inquest into the death of the late Robert Hasteywill probably be finished Wednesday evening. The jury in the case met last night, and adjourned after Coroner Freeland had read a communication from the physician attending McCuaig, the injured engineer, stating that the injured man would be able to come down and give his evidence Wednesday evening. It was also decided to summon the day operator at Stittsville.

Ottawa Daily Citizen 28 October 1897

Operator McNish was recalled and repeated some of his evidence given at the previous meeting. Owing to the injuries received by engineer McCuaig being more serious than was at first anticipated, he was unable to be present last night as expected, and the inquest was further adorned until Tuesday evening next, when it is expected the injured man will be present.
John Russell, station agent at Stittsville and day operator, stated that on the night of the 13th McNish relieved him about seven o'clock. Witness gave him no instructions, as he considered him competent to discharge his duties. Witness was called about six o'clock to send a message from conductor Hawes to Ottawa. After some difficulty a circuit was established and the message transmitted. It was the Brakeman's duty to stay at Stittsville and flag the express.
Frederick M Spaidel, chief train dispatcher at Ottawa, was called and explained the mode of train despatching. He had examined operator McNish as to his knowledge of telegraphy and the rules of the road and found him competent to perform all the duties of a night operator.
Then Mervin McNish was recalled and repeated some of his previous testimony, and the inquest adjourned until Tuesday next (2/11) at 8 p.m.

Ottawa Daily Citizen 28 October 1897

INQUEST CONTINUED.
John Russell Gives Evidence on the Duties of s Brakeman
 The inquest touching the death of the late James hastey, brakeman in the recent C. P. R, accident, was again resumed at Rogers' morgue, Rideau street last night. To new witnesses were examined. but nothing ol importance wss elicited from their evidence. Operator McNish was recalled and repeated some of his evidence given at the previous meeting. Owing to the injuries received, by Engineet McCuaig being more serious than was at first anticipated he waa unable to be present last night as expected and the inquest was further adjourned until Tuesday evening next. when it is expected the injured man will be present.
John Russell, station agent at Stittsville and day operator, stated that on the nigbt of the 13th McNish relieved him about seven, o'clock. Witness gave him no instructions, as he considered him competent to discharge his duties. Witness was called about six o'clock to send a message from Conductor Hawes to Ottawa. After some difficulty a circuit was established and the message transmitted. It was tbe brakeman's duty to stay at Stittsville and flag the express..
Frederick M. Spaidal. chief train despatcher at Ottawa, was called and explained the mode of train despatching. He had examined Operator McNish as to his knowledge of telegraphy and the rules of the road and found him competent to perform all the duties of a night operator.
Then Mervin McNish was recalled and repeated some of his previous testimony, and the inquest adjurned until Tuesday next at 8 p.m.

Ottawa Daily Citizen 3 November 1897

Two of them indicted.
Manslaughter found in the C. P. R. Inquest.
Conductor Hawse and Engineer McCuaig of the Special Freight found guilty of willful carelessness - jury out several hours.
The adjourned inquest into the C. P. R. Railway disaster, in which James Hastey, Frank Larondeau, James Kennedy and Robert Peden lost their lives, was continued last night, and after hearing the evidence of engineer McCuaig, the case was given to the jury at 9.30.
At 3:30 this morning the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against conductor Harry Hawes and engineer Alex. McCuaig of the special freight, for not having complied with the rules of the railway as regards the flagging of approaching trains.
The lengthy sitting of the jury was owing to some of the jurymen thinking that operator McNish was equally culpable with conductor Hawes and engineer McCuaig. The jurymen found conductor Hawes blamable for not having sent a flagman ahead when he found the engineer McCuaig had failed to station one at Stittsville, and that engineer McCuaig should have compelled Hastey to remain at Stittsville.
Coroner Freeland issued warrants for the arrest of hawes and McCuaig at the close of the inquest.
McCuaig's Evidence.
Alexander McCuaig, who was the engineer on the special freight leaving Ottawa on the morning of the accident and which collided with the Toronto Express, was the only witness last night. He stated that he left Ottawa at 3.25 a. m., with orders to proceed to Carleton Junction, crossing a special down freight at Stittsville. The freight crossed the "Soo" train at Britannia, and went on to the Bells Corners grade, where it stuck. It was necessary to cut the train there, and witnesse took the forward portion to Stittsville. Hastey, the deceased brakeman, went to Stittsville with witness. They backed on a siding, and uncoupled the engine from the cars. Hastey went into the station, and came out and got on the engine. Witness asked him if they were to stop at Stitsville. Hastey said: "No; I have told the operator not to let any train through until we get back." Witness was on his seat in the engine when Hastey told him. Hastey got on the engine, saying he had put up the semaphores, and everything was all right. They then back to down to the other portion of the train.
Witness thought he had complied with rule 16 when he had left a flag man. Operator McNish was the flagman. Witness relied on what the brakeman had told him. He understood that as long as he left an employee of the road to flag he had complied with the regulations.
On reaching the rear section they connected with it, and started toward Stittsville. When witness noticed the headlight of the express they were about eight or ten lengths apart. He applied the brakes, reversed, and jumped. He broke his leg when he struck the ground, and laid there for some time, and then crawled back to the van.
To a juror, witness said that the red light of the east semaphore was showing when he returned from Stittsville to the rear section of his train at Bells Corners.

Eastern Ontario Review Friday 3 December 1897

Alex McQuaig, the engineer charged with manslaughter as a result of the accident at Stittsville, has been committed for trial.

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